Thursday, July 18, 2024

Why is parakeet losing feathers? [and REMEDIES]


A decade ago when I started feeding birds, I had this strange question of why is parakeet losing feathers as it was mentally disappointing to see the parakeet transitioning from that plumpy figure to featherless figure. As they started losing feathers, I was on the verge of assuming that they are experiencing health complications. That was the time when I learned the concept of parakeet molting.

Let’s dive right into the exact reason why parakeet is losing feathers and the best way to stop parakeet from molting.

Why is parakeet losing feathers?

Parakeets lose feathers due to one of the reasons – unclean feathers, first molt, infections, self-mutilation, or a beak and feather disease. While it is common among younger parakeets as they lose feathers to allow new ones to grow, older parakeets need intervention if the habit continues.

Losing feathers in parakeets is called molting. The phenomenon of molting is pretty usual among parakeets but sometimes, you may need the intervention of the vet. Here are a few instances when your parakeet loses feathers.

  • Baby molting

At a time when the parakeet reaches 3 months of age, old feathers drop mainly to allow new feathers to grow and give a better shape and structure.

I adopted a parakeet a few years ago and I was unsure of his age when he was being rehabilitated. I then identified that the dark stripes seen on the head indicate that he was still a baby.

You should never be worried if it is an event of baby molting.

parakeet baby molting
  • Infections

This is a killer! While infections are less common among parakeets, feather loss can happen due to the event of ringworm. You can spot the presence of infection when your parakeet is regularly scratching the plain area.

Infections caused by fleas might not just happen because of the environment. When the water that your parakeet drinks is contaminated, it can lead to the development of worms within the stomach, and feather loss is the obvious consequence.

  • Unclean

It is habitual for parakeets to self-clean their bodies. When they believe that they need to self-clean, they tend to pluck out feathers which can end up in a shabby look.

Note If your parakeet does it continuously, you need to consult an avian expert.

  • Self-mutilation

You need to be cautious if your parakeet is self-mutilating. This is common among bored parakeets. They develop feather pulling as a natural habit and finally end up in a different shape.

Some of the solutions suggested for your parakeet during self-mutilation are –

  • Give more attention
  • Provide more toys
  • Increase the time and space for parakeet’s freedom
  • Pet your parakeet and give her/him the assurance

We also have an exclusive article on – can parakeets live alone? Give it a read if your parakeet is suffering from loneliness.

Doing these can give them changes in a couple of days.

  • Extreme feather loss / beak and feather disease

With over a decade of experience being with parakeets, I should admit that extreme feather loss is a sign of psittacine beak and feather disease. This disease develops when the parakeet is malnutrition or deprives of vitamin D.

If your parakeet is old or weak, this disease can even turn fatal. Remember to keep him away from the rest of the birds and give him all the attention he needs.

This is a contagious disease among birds and ensure that you treat him at the right time.

What time of year do parakeets molt?

A parakeet molts once a year (sometimes twice) and this molting extends from 2-3 weeks. Some parakeets tend to molt randomly but when this phenomenon is observed frequently, it is better to pay more attention to it.

How do I know if my parakeet is molting? [Parakeet molting signs]

Your parakeet is molting if he looks bored, lethargic, and rugged. He can also display behavioral issues affecting his attention and suffer from a loss of interest in food. Excessive picking of feathers is common when your parakeet has a feather disease.

Just like you and me, every parakeet undergoes stress due to various reasons. Sometimes, people could be the reason while there can be chances for food or environmental frustration to result in molting in parakeets.

After raising some parakeets in life, I have also found a few other signs indicating that my parakeet is molting.

  • Not responding to our instructions
  • Not enjoying the freedom or space
  • Avoiding any food
  • Munching plucked feathers constantly
  • Little to no movements each day
  • Growth in rugged look each day
  • Frequently attacking the rest or isolating from them
  • Frequent mood fluctuations
  • Loss of weight

If you find abnormal signs like puffing in your parakeet during molting times, you should take a look at the article.

Does molting make a parakeet sick?

Molting normally does not lead to sickness but when your parakeet molts for a long time and loses masses of feathers, it indicates sickness. He needs early intervention or his likelihood of growing feathers back can extend or might not happen at times.

Molting signs listed above can be of use in determining the presence and degree of sickness in your parakeet.

does molting make a parakeet sick
Source – Alen AXP

How do I stop my parakeet from molting?

The best way to stop your parakeet from molting is to give them extra warmth and comfort and never compromise on nutritious food.

Here are a few other remedies that I have tried to treat my parakeets while molting.

  • Give a warm space for your little one to get comfortable.
  • Allow more resting time but never let the space fall in short of sunlight.
  • Try misting the little parakeet once. If he is comfortable, you can do it one more time.
  • Allow your parakeet to molt for a couple of days and give him all the space he needs.
  • Increase the protein content and keep your parakeet hydrated.
  • When the pin feather molts excessively, it can bleed. So, rush to a vet.
  • Give your parakeet a clean environment.
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about animals and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of animals and birds, she uses PETSMOND to share her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Know more about me -

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